NORFOLK, Va. – 18 volunteers of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic, armed with gloves and trash bags, braved temperatures in the mid-90s to patrol the south bank of the Lafayette River on May 31, in search of trash and debris in support of the 31st Annual Clean the Bay Day.
“Each day as we carry out our mission of supporting the warfighter, the Environmental Business Line is also focused on how we can clean and protect our waterways,” said Mary Anne Morrison, a natural resources specialist who served as the command’s Clean the Bay Day co-chairman along with environmental engineer Tim Wenk. “Today we had the opportunity on a personal level to roll up our sleeves and turn our support into direct action.”
NAVFAC Atlantic got a head-start on the observance, which is typically held the first Saturday in June. Each year thousands of Virginians simultaneously descend on the rivers, streams, and beaches of the Chesapeake Bay watershed to remove harmful litter. Clean the Bay Day has become a true Virginian tradition and an annual opportunity for families, military installations, businesses, clubs, civic and church groups to give back to local waterways. Since 1989, 158,200 Clean the Bay Day volunteers have removed approximately 6.64 million pounds of debris from nearly 7,750 miles of shoreline in Virginia.
NAVFAC Atlantic volunteers collected approximately 350 pounds of junk from a quarter mile strip in less than two hours, bagging 150 pounds of plastics, bottles, cigarette butts and other debris. Participants also picked up an additional 200 pounds of items too large for bags, primarily discarded lumber.
One of the traditions that has emerged from NAVFAC Atlantic’s efforts is the recognition of the most strange or unique item recovered by a volunteer. This year, Braeden Miller, a natural resources specialist, found the most unusual relic, a discarded 8-track tape. Several discarded items from frustrated sportsmen were also recovered, including a fishing rod, a fish finder, a basketball, a swimming pool noodle and a golf glove.
“I’m always impressed with the diversity of volunteers from our team who come out to support this event, but this year’s effort, with temperatures pushing close to 100 degrees, was truly exceptional,” said Joe Cirvello, NAVFAC Atlantic’s Environmental Business Line Manager and a participant in this year’s event. “It’s a great reflection on our team not only as NAVFAC professionals, but also as citizens who care about our environment.”